6,000-year-old baby found cradled in mother’s arm

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
December 8, 2023

A 6,000-year-old Stone Age burial of a woman with a baby cradled in her arm discovered in 2015 in the central Netherlands city of Nieuwegein. It is the oldest infant burial ever found in the Netherlands

6,000-year-old baby found cradled in mother’s armLeft: The baby was found tucked under its mother’s arm in a grave in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands. Right: An artist’s impression of the grave. Nieuwegein township

Archaeologists in Holland have found the 6,000-year-old remains of a baby cradled in the arm of the woman believed to be its mother.

The infant, which experts believe may have been a newborn or as old as 6 months at the time of its death, was found during an excavation in Nieuwegein by archaeological consultants BAAC and RAAP. The site is the oldest baby grave ever discovered in the country.

Buried under about 6.5 feet of clay and peat at what is now a modern business park, the touching find stunned archaeologists.

Experts were surprised to find the baby next to the remains of a young woman, who was aged between 20 and 30 at the time of her death. The woman’s burial position, however, was unusual for the local region’s neolithic Swifterbant culture. “It had already been noticed that the woman’s left arm was right along her body, but that her right arm was bent,” explained the township of Nieuwegein, in a statement translated from Dutch.

Bone fragments of a baby were discovered at the woman’s right arm, including the skull, the jaw with teeth, the collarbone and a leg.

“This is a fantastic find,” said BAAC archaeologist Kirsten Leijnse, in the statement. “Whether the baby (and perhaps the woman) died at birth, we are not sure yet.”

DNA analysis will now be undertaken to determine whether the woman is indeed the baby’s mother, and also find out the baby’s gender.